Monday, March 2, 2015

Discontentment: Part 1

As I mentioned in this post, my focus this year is on the word Content.  During the past month, I've been chewing on this word quite a bit. 

Let's start with the definition... According to Merriam-Webster the definition of content is "pleased and satisfied: not needing more."

In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul writes, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (NIV)

Though I am still processing and meditating fully on learning the secret that Paul knew, I have discovered three main causes of discontentment:

1-  Pride 

If left unchecked, pride can create a sense of entitlement that causes us to believe we deserve more than what we currently have- the complete opposite of being "pleased and satisfied: not needing more."  Pride not only causes us to want more, but tells us that we deserve more. The Bible gives several warnings about being prideful:

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2:15-17

As Christians we are to follow the example of Christ, who "humbled himself to the point of death on the cross." (Philippians 2:5-8)

2- Playing the comparison game

Each one of us has been created for a certain purpose.  Ephesians 2:10 tells us, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." But when we compare our circumstances to others' we can sometimes feel like we are missing out.

There are people who started working after I did, who are now in positions ahead of me even within the same company.  When comparing ourselves to others who seem to have all the things we want, we can feel discontent and throw ourselves a pity party.  But beware of comparing your life to those you feel are worse off than you, because then you open the door for pride to enter your heart.

It's better to not compare yourself with anyone except Christ.

Which brings me to number 3...

3- Misguided Focus

Our focus as Christians should always be on Christ.  When we allow other things to distract us, we take our eyes off of Jesus and our focus turns to other things... mainly ourselves.  When our focus is centered on Christ, we see through the lens of the gospel.  Through this lens we see people in need and we love them. We see others as Jesus sees them. We live according to the word:
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (Philippians 2:3-4)

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." (Colossians 3:12-13)

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17)
Basically, we act like Christ!  But when our focus is on anything other than Jesus- even slightly, we start looking through the lens of sin.  The view out of this lens, is very much focused on our wants and our desires and we look out for the interest of ourselves.  It's because of this lack of focus on Jesus that we stop being satisfied in him and start looking for other "things" to satisfy us.

And that is really the root of discontentment- not being completely pleased and satisfied with Jesus and thinking we need more than him.

So here are the basic causes of discontentment. I know there are probably many more that I didn't cover so please share them in the comments below.

And stay tuned for Part 2, where I will discuss how to combat discontentment.

Love in Christ,


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